To begin to understand this unconsolidated sediments of the Richmond River Valley we turn to the most recent mapping of the area. Troedson et al. (2004) comprehensively mapped the coastal Quaternary sediments of the whole east coast of NSW. Troedson et al. (2004) demonstrated that over large areas of the lower Richmond Valley there are two units of coastal sand which formed in barrier environments. The most obvious coastal sands are active dune and beach systems formed from a barrier by the action of present day long-shore drift. These active barrier systems occur in many places along the coast. Troedson et al. (2004) also mapped extensive areas of what an earlier researcher Thom (1965) first identified as an inner coastal barrier. This inner barrier is comprised of an old beach system that is no longer active.
Drury (1982) undertook a comprehensive study of the Quaternary sediments of the Richmond River Valley. He confirmed the view by Thom (1965) that there was an old inner barrier system. This system was formed during a higher period of sea level than today and caused regional changes to coastal sedimentation (e.g. I previously posted on the estuarine sediments of the Lismore area). The high sea level eroded away the pre-existing beaches and formed new beach systems a significant distance inland (sometimes 15km or more). Then as the sea level retreated, the new beaches were no longer subject to erosion from the sea and were left intact. The beach systems continued to form on the sea-ward side of the old beaches and eventually built up a very large area of sand. These old beach systems are what made the Woodburn Sands.
The Woodburn Sands occur in a discontinuous zone from Broken Head National Park to the Evans River and the lowest reaches of the Richmond River (Swan Bay). The maximum thickness intersected is about 35 metres, so the sand layers can be very thick.
Like many places in eastern Australia, the action of coastal wave and wind processes can lead to concentrations of heavy mineral sand. These deposits are called mineral placers. The Woodburn Sands is another of these areas where placers are common. Indeed, a lot of sand mining took place on the north coast to exploit the high concentrations of zircon, ilmenite and even gold. Presently, the Woodburn Sands is not mined for minerals but is used as an important source of good quality groundwater, this includes the regional town water supply authority.
Drury (1982) also included an unusual feature within the Woodburn Sands. This feature was named the Broadwater Sandrock by Mcgarity (1956). McGarity (1956) demonstrated that the Broadwater Sandrock was formed by the cementation of sand by organic rich material probably formed by changes occurring in a peat swamp environment. This sandrock is a common feature up and down the east coast of Australia. Another common feature is the diversity of names given to this material which include ‘indurated sand’, ‘coffee rock’, ‘coastal sandrock’, ‘painted rock’, ‘beach rock’, ‘humate’ and ‘B-horizon of the humus podzol’ (Drury (1982), Mcgarity (1956), Thom (1965) and Den Exter (1974)). Take your pick! I follow the terminology proposed by Drury (1982) who included the Broadwater Sandrock as a member of the Woodburn Sands, i.e. the Broadwater Sandrock member.
Since doing the above post an anonymous commenter has rightly corrected and provided further information. You can see the full comment below, the comment much more accurately describes 'coffee rock' formation but I reproduce this section specifically:
...humicrete (coffee rock) forms as the B-horizon of a fossil soil on sand (a podsol). It is NOT a sedimentary layer itself ie NOT a stratigraphic unit, so should not have been referred to as a "member" ...
*Den Exter, P.M. 1974. The Coastal Morphology and & Late Quaternary Evolution of the Camden Haven District, NSW. Australia. PhD thesis. University of New England, Armidale.
*Drury, L.W. 1982. Hydrogeology and Quaternary Stratigraphy of the Richmond River Valley, NSW. PhD thesis. University of New South Wales, Kensington.
*McGarity, J.W. 1956. Coastal sandrock formation at Evans head, NSW. Proceedings of the Linnean Society of New South Wales. V81 p52-58.
*Thom, B.G. (1965). Late Quaternary morphology of the Port Stephens-Myall Lakes area, NSW. Journal of the Royal Society of New South Wales V98 p23-36.
*Troedson, A., Hashimoto, T.R., Jaworska, J., Malloch, K., Cain, L., 2004. New South Wales Coastal
Quaternary Geology. In NSW Coastal Quaternary Geology Data Package, Troedson, A., Hashimoto, T.R. (eds), New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, Mineral Resources, Geological Survey of New South Wales, Maitland.